“You Can Overcome”: 8-Year-Old Born Without Legs Is Winning Medals As Gymnast


An eight-year-old girl from Zanesville, Ohio who isn’t letting her disability stand in the way of her dreams of being a gymnast can serve as an inspiration to us all.

Paige Calendine was born without legs. So when she was just 18-months-old, her parents decided to sign her up for gymnastics to help with upper body strength that she’d need to get around. Now, she’s in the third grade and her passion for the sport is still going strong.

“My parents signed me up to gymnastics cause they wanted me to have body strength and then when I started I had a little struggle,” Paige recently told 6 ABC News. “But then I started getting better and when we go on these bars we started working on routines.”

“We started Paige at 18-months-old in gymnastics just to build her upper body strength and get her, and she just did great, and we’ve just been working at it ever since,” added Paige’s father, Sean Calendine. “She just gets better and better.”

“Anything that happens in your life, you can overcome,” Paige said. “That’s what I would tell other people. You can do it.”

And for the first time this year—prior to the coronavirus pandemic outbreak—Paige competed for the first time at the Arnold Sports Festival in gymnastics in Columbus.

Paige’s coach Esther Weibel, who works with the Xcel team at Zanesville Gymnastics, describes it as “like an alternative program within USA gymnastics,” in that it provides wider freedom for creativity and skills so they can adapt routines to each individual child.

The goal of the Xcel, according to the program’s website, is to “provide gymnasts of varying abilities and commitment levels the opportunity for a rewarding gymnastics experience.”

“Paige has been working out here since she was a little girl, she started competing for us just this season as an Xcel bronze,” said Weibel. “She’s a big part of our Xcel team. She practices with all the Xcel levels together.”

Before her big competition, Paige stopped by NBA on TNT to show off her skills and chat about what it’s like being a gymnast with Adam Lefkoe, Shaq, Candace Parker, and Dwyane Wade. It seems to go without saying that Paige has a bright future in store!

Stacey Ritzen

Written by Stacey Ritzen